10 Things about IVF (IN-VITRO FERTILISATION)
6 in 7 couples get pregnant within 2 years of unprotected sexual intercourse. I mean to say, 1 in 7 do not get pregnant. Fortunately science has come a long way in last 40 years, since first IVF baby Louise Brown was born in 1978. Today we have numerous techniques that help infertile couples. Most effective treatment for infertility, IVF has already helped millions of couples around the world to experience parenthood.
Whether you are unsure about your decision to opt for IVF or have decided and ready to start your IVF cycle, this blog will help you learn more about the IVF process, its side-effects, the success rate and other aspects of IVF. Most importantly, IVF is recommended for couples where the woman is physically or emotionally fit to carry pregnancy for 9 months and deliver.
1. Not everyone will conceive through IVF –IVF is offered to couples with hormone imbalance, low sperm quality, poor ovarian reserve, issues with ovulation, fallopian tubes block. Success rate is almost 50%, give and take. However, success rate reduces if certain factors are noted in the couple i.e. PCO, endometriosis, advanced age, poor sperm quality.
2. There is no guarantee – Realistic expectations! The golden words all couples should remember throughout the process. Do not assume that all IVF cycles will results in 100% success rate. No fertility clinic or expert can guarantee pregnancy and childbirth in IVF. For women under 35, a third of the IVF cycles result in live births. This % keeps falling exponentially with rising age. Youngerthe couple, higher the success rate. For most women, fertility begins to decline from 30 years of age and for men. For most men, fertility begins to decline from 40 years age. There is reduced sperm count and quality.
3. It’s not always about the clinic – Couples should bear in mind that it’s a joint effort between the couple and the clinic. Success depends on a large number of factors including sperm quality, overweight, smoking, alcohol, regular medication, life style etc
4. IVF takes time –IVF is a process and not an event. Shortest it can take is 6 weeks, provided the couple attend consultations scheduled and start treatment straightaway and get pregnant in first attempt. Any delays in above mentioned steps will delay process. In IVF, active and healthy sperm are injected into the egg. So how do we make these eggs? Below are the steps of IVF.
• 8-10 days of daily injections to stimulate ovaries, starting from day 1-2
• 3-4 tracking scans
• Trigger injection
• Egg Collection
• Fertilisation in the lab
• Embryo transfer
• Freezing of any remaining embryos
• Pregnancy test after two weeks
The key to success in IVF is patience and commitment to the process. Each step in IVF is crucial and the couple must never get careless about the small little things. At times, couple may require more than one IVF cycle but this is not something to worry about as many couples require two to three IVF cycles to be able to get pregnant through IVF.
5. There are some side-effects – IVF procedure may have some minor side-effects on the female partner due to the ovulation stimulation hormones. These include mood swings, cramps, bloating, and breast tenderness. In women with PCO, there is a risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome where the ovaries swell up, fluid collects in the pelvis and rarely in the lungs. A very small possibility of bleeding, infection, damage to the bowel and bladder during the egg retrieval process. All the complications are rare and medical care will be provided until the situation is resolved.
6. It may take a toll on your mental health and relation– For some couples, it can get really stressful to first deal with infertility and then undergo an IVF cycle, making the relationship to go through a toll. Repeated IVF cycles may make the woman feel low and dejected about herself and her body, feel depressed too. Needless to say, it is vital for the couple to stay away from such negative thoughts. The couple are highly recommended to take ime out to editate, do yoga, practice a hobby, or undertake a small trip to destress. Both partners should be there for each other to support in every possible way. Always remember, taking good care of both physical and emotional health is vital during the journey from IVF to pregnancy and then childbirth.
7. Frozen embryos or fresh embryos – There have been some studies coming up saying that frozen embryo transfer has slightly better success rate than the fresh embryo transfer. However, remember that you are not a “study” and your fertility expert will allow you to make informed choice based on the quality of the eggs, sperm and embryos and the reasons behind your infertility.
8. Freeze eggs or freeze embryos- If you are growing old and do not have any immediate plans of having a baby, it is best to preserve your eggs or embryos as they can help you conceive at a later stage in your life. It is preferred to freeze embryos as compared to eggs as they survive thawing better and have a higher chances of successful pregnancy.
9. Twins and more – Transferring more than one embryo will result in twin or more pregnancies. There is a 3% chance of multiple births in natural pregnancy and this rate increases up to 40% in IVF if two embryos are transferred. Decision on how many embryos to be transferred will clearly be discussed with you both and decision is yours. Transferring more than one embryo will not increase success rate but reduces the time to get pregnant. Let me explain what it means. Instead of two or three IVF cycles, pregnancy will happen in less number of attempts.
10. There are alternatives to IVF – If you are unable to get pregnant in the first IVF cycle, you must not lose heart. Continue to try for next IVF cycles as each consecutive IVF cycles are known to increase success rate with each cycle. If there is no success in 3 cycles, your fertility specialist will discuss how reasons behind failure can be investigated or addressed. This may mean genetic testing of the couple, immunological tests and hysteroscopy in the female. There is a discussion about donor eggs or donor sperms. Surrogacy and adoption are other alternatives.
It’s all worth it in the end – We know and totally agree that IVF is a lengthy procedure and can take up a lot of time and effort. It can be emotionally draining for the couple and even cause anxiety or stress. But all this makes complete sense when you get the positive result for the pregnancy test and deliver a healthy baby. It is undeniably the happiest moment for the couple to be able to hold their baby in their arms. IVF can neither guarantee pregnancy nor promise live child birth, yet it is the most successful Assisted Reproductive Technique (ART) for couples who are unable to conceive naturally due to fertility issues.